BOGOTA (Dow Jones)--More than 250 women in a remote town in southwest Colombia are refusing to have sex with their partners until the central government follows through with a decades-old plan to pave the town's only access road.
"These women, and all of the rest of us in this town, are fed up with the empty promises from the central government," Lucelly Del Carmen Viveros, the human rights coordinator in the town of Barbacoas, said in a phone interview Friday. "This is the only road connecting Barbacoas to the rest of the state and the country, and it's in despicable condition."
The women began what they call the "Crossed Legs Strike" on Thursday, said Viveros, who said she's not personally participating because she doesn't have a boyfriend or husband.
Some 40,000 people live in Barbacoas and its surrounding hamlets, and to get there one must travel along the treacherous, 35-mile mountain road from the town of Junin, near Colombia's border with Ecuador.
The unpaved Junin-Barbacoas route normally takes four to six hours, Viveros said, but torrential rains over the past year have caused several landslides, making the commute longer--about 10 hours--and more dangerous.
"Prices for basic foods in this town are probably the highest in the whole country because of the delivery costs," she said.
Barbacoas is one of scores of towns and cities throughout Colombia still suffering from downpours over the past 12 months that were caused by the La Nina weather pattern. President Juan Manuel Santos said the rains and flooding, which destroyed highways, bridges and crops, were the worst natural disaster in Colombia's history.
Viveros said former President Alvaro Uribe promised the townspeople of Barbacoas two years ago that funds have been set aside to pave the Junin-Barbacoas route, but she said little ever came of it.
A spokesman at the Transportation Ministry in Bogota said the ministry had no immediate comment.
Colombia's no stranger to sex strikes.
In 1997, the army's chief, Gen. Manuel Bonnet, urged women who were married to or dating a leftist guerrilla, right-wing paramilitary fighter or drug trafficker to deny them sex until they all agreed to a peace deal. And in 2006, women in a violent city in Colombia's coffee-growing region held a crossed-legs strike for 10 days in the hopes of ending a bloody, inner-city gang feud.
Viveros said a hunger strike in support of paving the road will begin in Barbacoas Saturday with the participating of more than 1,000 people, both men and women. She said many of the men told her they'd prefer to go without food than sex.
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